Friday, September 01, 2006

Washroom break

We all know that you can be a native English speaker and still find communicating in English a very challenging task. There are so many different interpretations among people living in Britain, America, and Canada. But living in Sub-Saharan Africa, I find my communication skills much improved. I now have expanded my vocabulary and communication styles to accommodate a wide variety of people. For example, when I request the use of a public washroom, I start with…excuse me, can you tell me where the washroom is? If I receive a vacant stare, I try again…restroom? Bathroom? Toilet – toilet, just get me the toilet! Of course, never underestimate the usefulness of silent communication…maybe crouching movements? Although, I have to admit that may not apply to certain contexts. In Malawi for instance, women pee standing up in the street – with an unapologetic stare back if you happen to rudely glance in puzzlement at them. No big deal. It’s quite a talent really. It is quite common to pee in the streets in Africa but the women standing thing gets you everytime – I think it was generally agreed that is not quite common elsewhere. And NO, I will not be practicing that particular talent. But don’t get squeamish. There is nothing wrong with answering a very basic human need by watering the soil. Anyway – my tip – keep communication context specific.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are too funny, and I am loving being in Africa vicariously through you.


[Sorry I had to post as annonymous, it's that whole blogger bets thing.]

5:22 PM  
Blogger Angelo said...

Are you serious? women can pee standing up? I'll have to get my gf to try it one time.... is there a special technique?

9:27 PM  
Blogger Sophie's Blog said...

yes they really do pee standing up...technique? hmm, i suppose best is to position oneself as if you're ready for a race. somehow, i dont know if our torontonians are ready to see your gf try that :). anyway, nice pictures from your blog...brought me back home...and after living in hamilton for so many years with people having nothing nice to say about it...nice to see that others are taking note of the old churches with the beautiful architectural designs...peace

1:58 AM  

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